Juraj Jurčík: We are the most digital insurance company in the market
18 August 2020
As of 2 July 2020, Juraj Jurčík was appointed new CEO of Generali Slovakia. Recently he was interviewed by Slovak bi-monthly print and online economic magazine Financial Report. In the interview, he brings readers closer to his professional history, as well as his thoughts on different topics concerning the insurance business in Slovakia, for example areas where he can see a significant potential for Generali Slovakia to grow or how the corona crisis accelerated the innovation processes. You can read the transcript of his interview below.
Photo by Tomáš Griger
Generali is part of the group of the most innovative insurance companies in the Slovak insurance market. All types of insurance can be concluded without physical contact with the client. They try to solve the majority of claims in a similar way. They are on friendly terms with financial technologies but add a human touch to their work. In addition to numbers, they are interested in sustainable business. As of 2 July 2020, they have a new CEO. And we have discussed the past, present as well as the near future of Generali with him – with Juraj Jurčík.
What position do you hold in the Slovak insurance market? Which products are you strong in and where, to the contrary, do you wish to strengthen your position?
Currently and in the long run, we have been number three among the insurance companies in Slovakia. For instance, our current share in the domestic market of non-life insurance amounts to 12.3 per cent. We are a universal insurance company which can conclude a policy for almost anything and does so through three brands – Generali, Genertel and Európska cestovná poisťovňa.
Why do you use three brands? Doesn’t it split your forces and thus decrease the overall result you otherwise might achieve?
I don’t think so. All three of our brands form an integral part of Generali. We have a broad scope of operation and this is also a way to try to get closer to our clients. Mainly to those who are our specific target group. For example, Genertel focuses on the on-line and price-sensitive group and Európska cestovná poisťovňa dominates the insurance market of travel agencies.
Which type of business prevails in Generali?
We cannot say that some type of insurance would prevail. To the contrary – Generali is a well-balanced and universal insurance company. The volume of life and non-life insurance is almost equally balanced. And within the non-life insurance, the MTPL and property and casualty insurance have an almost equal share.
You have been working with Generali for a long time, even by Slovak standards. Tell us more about your professional life.
I have been working at Generali in various positions for 23 years so far. For most of my career I have been dealing with financial management. About four years ago, I took over the Sales Division of the company, and from 2 July, 2020, I am in charge of the whole company.
What is the state of the company after you become its CEO?
I have to say it really is in good shape. Both the sales and economic results are exceptional. The same applies to the positive atmosphere here in the company as regards the engagement and competences of our employees. That is a great starting point for our future. Expectations of our shareholders are naturally related to this. We need to enhance our position in the market and to grow. Over the long run, we have been growing most dynamically in the group of top three insurance companies, however, we want to continue to achieve the sustainability of our business results.
Where do you see the biggest growth potential?
From the perspective of products, non-life insurance is the answer, which has historically been the least saturated type of insurance in Slovakia. However, we view the potential of the market through the lens of our potential clients, who may be divided into sociological or geographical segments. Based on that, we know there are client segments which are only marginally insured - if they are insured at all.
Could you state an example for better understanding?
As an example, we may take the segment of small and medium enterprises. And that is not only from the view of professional insurance but also of the P&C insurance. I perceive the market niche the greatest here. Moreover, there are young people who are covered only weakly but who simultaneously pose high risks from the perspective of insurance companies. This poses a really strong challenge for all of us who operate in our market.
We all have been through a demanding period recently. How did Generali cope with the massive start of the corona crisis and what measures have you taken?
This period is unparalleled in the past. The advantage is that in the past we got over several economic and competition crises which have made us stronger and better prepared for the future. The crisis scenarios, which our risk management had prepared, eventually worked quite well. Even though no one was ready for a situation like this in particular, as a company we have proved that we are able to get going and then to act flexibly enough.
To be ready for a crisis like the one the coronavirus pandemic has brought, you must have been dealing with the digitisation of your insurance processes and products in the past. Is that right?
I dare say that we are the most digital company in the market. We had been paying attention to digitisation and technological innovations already, before the corona pandemic outbreak, which is what has turned out to be our great competitive advantage. Therefore, I can also state that the recent months have brought nothing new, which we would not have discussed so far. It has, however, brought a huge acceleration of implementing projects, which we had been planning. The ones that were just on the level of ideas turned into reality within just several weeks.
What does it mean in particular in practice?
Our salespeople can conclude all types of insurance policies remotely – without personal meetings, in a paperless, cashless way and also with no signature needed (for the insurance policy to be valid, one just needs to pay the prescribed premium). This includes also insurance for entrepreneurs, which was simply unthinkable several months ago. The related, noticeably higher efficiency of work is a real asset.
Concluding an insurance policy on a digital basis is, however, just the notional tip of the iceberg when it comes to your activities. Your company has been using a lot of other smart solutions. What are they?
During the coronavirus pandemic, our cooperation with external providers of innovative video solutions has proved to be extraordinarily efficient. We use videos for example to identify our clients. In addition, we have introduced the possibility of a video inspection of a damaged house or flat without the necessity of physical participation of our worker. Moreover, we have an app, which can, based on the video inspection, immediately determine the extent of car damage and calculate the assumed extent of indemnification.
There are several external providers in the market, who bring smart solutions, which are profitable both for the clients and insurance companies with quality products. How do you perceive these benefits?
It is good that they are here and that they come up with ideas and solutions. For instance, I find the comparison engine for insurance products in individual categories of non-life insurance from the company called Positive very useful. It contributes to an increased awareness of the market, which allows the clients to make better decisions. I am sure that the more information they have, the fewer misunderstandings arise when concluding policies.
Has the digitisation of insurance policies brought any changes also to the employment structure within your insurance company?
It is a completely natural development for us. As technologies and the related agendas evolve, so does the structure of job positions and human resources allocation change. Some agendas go out and others, simultaneously arising from the needs, are born. I mean mainly the ones that are related to gathering, analysing, evaluating and interpreting the data. And sure enough, this also applies to information technologies.
Let us now move to a different topic – apart from providing insurance and insurance services, Generali also supports charitable projects. Do you find it important to share your success and what projects are you especially proud of?
I think it is right if part of our profits goes for the benefit of the ones who need it most. We did so in the past and we are doing so now, too. As an example, let me mention an activity within The Human Safety Net in the project called Learning for Life (Učenie pre život), where we, together with the Union of Mother Centres (Únia materských centier) help socially disadvantaged families. We aim to provide access to education to children from these families, and thus give them a higher chance to integrate into life.
This is your long-term project, where you managed to help dozens or hundreds of families all around Slovakia. During the pandemic, you also focused on one-off activities. What were they?
We bought 5 disinfecting germicide robots which can effectively disinfect hospital premises. We decided to do so in times, when everyone who could, tried to help in the battle with the coronavirus. We chose this solution in particular as it was missing in the market and it will be useful also after the corona crisis has faded out.
Last but not least, let us go back to your ambitions. What direction would you like Generali to take under your leadership and what result will make you, personally, satisfied?
Frankly, I find the way to results important. Our philosophy is to do partner business. I wish we all are partners to each other - be it within the company or towards our clients. Generali’s philosophy is simply designated to be a life-time partner and that is how everything only begins upon concluding a policy. That is when we only begin to communicate with, take care of and support our clients’ life and bring them tailored solutions. It is important for us that this relationship is long-term, open, balanced and sustainable. In other words, we want to do insurance with a human touch.
For more on top management changes in Generali Poisťovňa, a.s. in Slovakia (as of July 2020), please read the press release.